David Cameron goes 'all out for shale' with tax boost for councils willing to approve projects

Environmentalists accuse Prime Minister of trying to 'bribe' local authorities

David Cameron has announced a huge tax break for any councils willing to approve fracking projects in their area, as the Government goes "all out" to promote shale gas mining.

The Prime Minister said local authorities would receive 100 per cent of the business rates collected from drilling schemes - double their usual 50 per cent - in a move which Greenpeace has slammed as a "naked attempt to bribe councils".

The Government sees shale gas as having the potential to "guarantee energy supplies", as well as generating billions for the economy and supporting around 74,000 jobs.

Mr Cameron said: "A key part of our long-term economic plan to secure Britain's future is to back businesses with better infrastructure.

"That's why we're going all out for shale. It will mean more jobs and opportunities for people, and economic security for our country".

The announcement came as the French company Total confirmed it will invest about £30 million in a Lincolnshire drilling project currently run by a US firm. It is believed to be the first major energy company to buy a share in UK fracking.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon insisted that the incentive on offer was the same as for other renewable technologies such as wind farms and solar energy, adding that he expected 20 to 40 fracking exploration wells to be drilled in the next couple of years.

"It is only right, when there is local growth and local jobs, that the councils are able to retain more of the business rates in order to help improve or maintain local services," he told BBC Breakfast. "I think that is only fair that local people should see some of the direct benefit.

"We now know that we are sitting on hundreds of millions of cubic feet of shale gas.

"We do not yet know whether we can get it out as effectively as they have got it out in the US. We do not yet know whether it could be a really good reliable source of cheap energy. That is why we do need to explore.

"We expect 20 to 40 wells to be drilled over the next couple of years.”

Environmentalists said today's tax break, which could see councils receive an extra £1.7 million a year from each fracking site they approve, showed just how "worried" the Government is about local opposition to the controversial extraction method.

Lawrence Carter of Greenpeace said: "This is a naked attempt by the Government to bribe hard pressed councils into accepting fracking in their area.

"Cameron is effectively telling councils to ignore the risks and threat of large-scale industrialisation in exchange for cold hard cash.

"Having had their claims that fracking will bring down energy bills and create jobs thoroughly discredited, the Government is now resorting to straight up bribery to sell their deeply unpopular fracking policy."

Jane Thomas, a senior campaigner with Friends of the Earth, added: "It's ironic that a French-owned company is seeking to drill the UK for shale gas when it's banned from fracking in France due to environmental concerns."

A Local Government Association (LGA) spokesman said: "Councils have been clear that the people and communities whose areas host fracking sites must feel the benefit.

"Today's announcement from the Prime Minister is a step in the right direction, which will mean that business rates paid by shale gas firms will help councils to maintain and improve local services for residents."



Video: fracking in the UK
Fracking 'dangerous'
Fracking to resume in Uk
Friends of the Earth criticise fracking
Tory peer Lord Howell of Guildford on fracking
Fracking protests in Balcombe
Cuadrilla boss on fracking
Vivienne Westwood is against fracking
Fracking protestors superglued to floor
Shale gas a 'huge opportunity'
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing